1153 Tasting Notes


Sipdown no. 155 of the year 2014.

Hi everyone! It’s pretty hot here and I find myself not much in the mood for hot beverages. But somehow tea is even hotter when hot than coffee, so coffee has taken over as my morning beverage. Perhaps it’s the chi (qi?) factor? No idea.

Periodically, though, I’ve been making up batches of cold brew, and between those and running out of coffee and drinking the rest of this hot this morning, I’ve reached another major sipdown. This made a really nice cold brew, better than the hot version. The citrus gives the cold brew a tiny tang that makes it interesting.

My sipdown project has obviously been derailed, but I’ll continue on through the summer to the extent I can. Baseball season is over, school is over, etc. but we’re now gearing up for a vacation in Scotland later in the summer, and work has maintained a steady state of busyness so life remains hectic. On top of all this I’m trying to keep writing and taking classes regularly. And did I mention exercise? I gained back all the weight I lost and got horribly out of shape due to stress and blues, but with the trip coming up I’m trying to shed some pounds (it won’t be nearly enough but it should help some) and get some basic aerobic fitness back so I’ll enjoy myself rather than feeling tired and out of breath roaming around Scotland.

In any case, sorry for my continued scarcity. Hope all is well with everyone!


Scotland…dreamy :-)


Enjoy your trip


Thanks, we’re looking forward to it!

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I love jasmine pearls in both green and oolong form. Jasmine tea in any form is awesome in my book if done well, but pearls are particularly candy like.

This is a mellow one. Everything about it is mellow, from the scent in the packet, to the pale yellow liquor, to the floral aroma, to the flavor which isn’t so jasminey that the green tea is untastable and isn’t so light as not to merit the name jasmine.

Not as tasty overall as the Leafspa, but I’m bumping that one up still higher so I can give this a solid score. I haven’t met a jasmine I didn’t like, I have just met some I like better than others.

Still battling some time sinks at work and home that are keeping me away from tea and here, but hoping to figure out a way to manage the various pieces of my life better.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

I need to try these!


Miraculously, it is still on offer at Teavana (I’m fairly sure I got it as part of my tea of the month club membership a while back, and most of those have been discontinued).

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Hi all! Generally hot weather, combined with end of school year craziness with the kids and the fact that one of my colleagues at work recently departed so (guess what) I am now doing part of his job as well are all conspirators to keep me from enjoying sitting down with a cup of tea, much less writing tasting notes. However, I’ve been coughing for the last couple of days and today, I woke up with a squeak in my voice signalling the beginning of laryngitis. Ugh.

The good news is that baseball season is almost over, one of the kids’ other activities is on hiatus until the fall, and school will be over in a couple of weeks.

This tea has now become part of my work stash, and I’m glad I had it here with me today. There really is nothing like a cup of warm tea for any throat ailment. I see more warm tea and potentially a few notes in my future. ;-)

I was cold brewing for a while and then got side tracked by some other bright shiny objects and haven’t put any up for a while, but I think I will do that tonight as well.

Hope everyone’s doing well!


Welcome back!


Thanks! I will try to stay “back” but it’s so crazy right now. Sigh.


I know. I have 2 proms and 2 orientations to attend. Busy with dresses and shoes. Oh they drive me nuts. You are so lucky! Boys don’t care abt this stuff

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drank Great White by Tavalon Tea
1153 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 154 of the year 2014.

Honestly, I don’t care enough about this tea to try to perfect steeping parameters for it. It was decent, but not special when I tried in the gaiwan, and I tried it several times. I dumped what was left (about 6 grams) into the Breville and made it according to Tavalon’s instructions—180 degrees, 4 minutes.

This didn’t make it any more or less remarkable than it was in the gaiwan using a lower temperature. Fortunately, it isn’t planty, so I give it higher than usual white peony marks for that, and this time a slight floral note is coming out high above some slight woodiness.

But I strongly suspect white peony and I simply aren’t meant to be unless it is operating as the base for a nicely flavored white tea.

180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 0 sec 6 g 17 OZ / 500 ML

so I guess you find it too banal?


what time of day do you usually drink tea?


inspiregong, I drink different types of tea at different times of day. Usually black in the morning and early afternoon, then white or green in the mid-afternoon, then if I have oolong on a particular day I usually drink it in the afternoon, and herbals/decafs at night.

I don’t know if banal is the right word. By comparison to other white peonies, this one isn’t bad and there’s nothing offensive about it. I just don’t seem to find white peony in general very flavorful and though I have a fair amount of it in my stash and will keep trying, once that’s done I’m not sure it’s something I’ll be restocking in my personal stash.

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drank Lady Bedford by Todd & Holland
1153 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 153 of the year 2014.

I think I have figured out what Harney tea this reminds me of. Ready?

Queen Catherine!

And here’s the really amusing thing. I see that I rated this and Queen Catherine the same without realizing at the time what the comparison was.

I had the kids do a sniff test of what was left in this sample bag against what was in the Queen Catherine sample. They both said this one smelled more “green.”


I’m pretty sure my namesake can take any queen any day.

Just saying.


Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford? Originator of “afternoon tea”? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Russell,_Duchess_of_Bedford

You have a point there. :-)


Exactly that namesake.

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drank Fruta Bomba by Teavana
1153 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 152 of the year 2014.

Not much to add to previous notes. Pleasant enough, just not particularly distinctive as fruit flavored green teas go.

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drank Orange U Slim by Teas Etc
1153 tasting notes

This is a nice sized sample in a sealed packet. Too much to be sipped down in one sitting. It’s enough for two servings.

This has a faint orange fragrance in the packet, and I don’t smell tea underneath. The leaves are dark with curls of orange peel among them.

After a rinse and an initial 15 second steep in the gaiwan, the liquor is darker than I expected, sort of a natural honey color. There’s a dark oolong stonefruit aroma with a slight citrus note.

I get what Rabs said about this, there’s an earthy flavor. Even after a very short steep it’s almost bitter, which is disappointing. I get not much in the way of orange flavor. It’s very faint. It could be a fair amount stronger without running the risk of overpowering the oolong base.

Second steep, 20 seconds. The liquor is darker, a sort of brandy color. More orange in the aroma, along with the typical dark oolong toastiness. Still not much orange in the flavor, and as dark oolongs go, this one doesn’t seem to have a lot of flavor to the base, either. It’s not bitter on this steep, but it doesn’t have much complexity.

Third steep, 25 seconds. The flavor has opened up some. There’s a bit more orange flavor, and a rather pleasant, thick mouthfeel. Some astringency and some peach-pit notes starting to emerge from what seemed before a sort of generic woodiness. A slight bitterness at the finish.

Fourth steep, 30 seconds. Pretty much the same as the third.

I may fiddle around with this through a few more steeps, but it’s not doing much for me. It’s drinkable, but it doesn’t bowl me over.

Flavors: Orange Zest, Stonefruits

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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drank Mayan Chocolate Chai by 52teas
1153 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 151 of the year 2014. This time I made it with plain Assam (LeafSpa Banaspaty Bliss) as the extra black tea rather than spicy chocolate to see what difference that might make.

It does tone down the spice to about an 11 from a 15 or so, but it’s still quite spicy and there’s a substantial afterburn. Certainly a bit more than I can handle on a regular basis, but every now and then something like this could definitely hit the spot.

I really do like chai, which may explain why I seem to have it coming out of my ears. I haven’t counted all my chais, but I have two other chocolate chais from 52teas and at least ten others (some chocolate, some not) that I can think of offhand, not counting samples. It’s likely that number is higher. Sipping down chais isn’t all that easy for me. It’s higher in calories (because milk) and more labor intensive than most other teas, so I can’t drink it as frequently as I’d like. So getting this sipdown in gives me a feeling of accomplishment!

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This is yum.

I think I bought this sample because I liked the name (both because of the London neighborhood and because of the movie), but I’m glad I did. It’s a bold, hearty breakfast tea without being heavy. In the packet, I can smell both a bit of sharpness from the Assam and maltiness from the Yunnan. The steeped tea has a sweet, malty aroma and is a clear, mahogany color.

It has been a while since I had the Earl Grey Shanghai, but this reminds me somewhat of the base of that tea (must be the Yunnan) without the bergamot. I definitely get the “woodsy sweetness” of the description, as there’s something very arboreal about the flavor. I’m conscious I’m drinking something made from leaves when drinking this, and it’s a pleasant reminder. I can also get a hint of sweet tobacco.

Definitely many notes in this one, all of which work together nicely. It’s going on the shopping list.

And happy Easter to those who are celebrating.

Flavors: Malt, Tobacco, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

Ahhh, that movie brings back old memories…way TOO old, lol!!


Hah! I didn’t even remember when it came out, I had to go look it up. 1999. Doesn’t seem that long ago. I’m pretty sure I didn’t see it until years after it came out, so maybe that’s why.


I loved that movie! Glad the tea did not disappoint.

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Wow, it’s been five days since I posted a note. Which goes to show how crazy it has been.

The kids were on spring break and going to a day camp, so our schedule got all discombobulated from that, plus work has been such that I come home every day feeling as though I’ve been crushed and ground into a fine powder. And then some nights, I had to get back on the phone for calls with Asia. My left eyebrow has been twitching intermittently for the last week, which sometimes happens when I’m overtired or stressed.

I have been feeling unmoored and I think it is because all vestiges of routine have been abandoned. I haven’t even been having breakfast, really. No morning coffee or tea, or at least not on a regular basis.

Also, it’s been warm-ish here, so I haven’t been craving hot drinks.

But as I mentioned in the last note before the lapse, I cold brewed some of this.

I don’t think my palate is very refined when it comes to tasting iced teas. I mean, I can taste a difference between this and the other cold brewed blacks I have had lately, but not a great difference. I suspect that the fact that the difference isn’t that great is reason enough not to brew this cold, unless I try it hot and it doesn’t send me. Darjeeling may be too complex a flavor to translate to iced tea readily? There’s a little more sharpness to this than there is with the cold Assam but sharpness isn’t really the right word because the cold brewing has blunted it. Otherwise, it’s pretty much a decent black iced tea and does the job of being a refreshing cold drink.

Continued apologies for not reading/commenting as much as I’d like.

Iced 8 min or more 8 tsp 64 OZ / 1892 ML

No routine is brutal. Hopefully that is a short-term thing. :)


I’m sorry you are stressed. I cannot wait until spring break is over. Apr22 is jury duty. Oh we’ll…


Thanks. Yes, I think I need to make an effort to get the routine back on track. I would also probably help if I ate less food that was bad for me and exercised….


Oh my, I hope you can get back to a “normal” life really soon. Not the eyebrow, but my left eyelid also twitches when stress becomes too intense, very unnerving…


Thanks, TF :-) Usually it’s my lid that twitches, too, but this time it’s higher up. Annoying.


I had the eye twitch last week too! Hope next week is better for you!!

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tea skills and tastes developed they became far less appealing to me. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

People have sent me tea on occasion, and I was once persuaded to send some Tazo Om to AmazonV. I’ve also done at least one group buy here on Steepster, the famous Doulton-led Dammann Freres experiment years ago. But mostly, I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it, though I don’t put samples in my cupboard and not everything I have at any given time is showing in my cupboard. I do try to remember to remove things from my cupboard once I no longer have them.

I was an early internet adopter and have been online in various environments since around 1990. Steepster is one of the nicest online environments I’ve ever been privileged to participate in and that is saying something. :-)


Bay Area, California



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